It was a trifecta affair between Brett Gardner, Josh Methner, and Bob Liking
The set up to the boy's race was not merely an opening act after a massive crowd witnessed Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) smash her own course record in 16:00.7 while running the third-fastest time (#1 in the regular season) in state history.
The tension of excitement was very thick as the varsity took center stage just past 10:45 am. We all knew something great was bound to happen as 15 top state-ranked runners and hundreds of other performers got off the starting line in a hurry. Josh Methner (Sr., Hersey), Brett Gardner (Sr., Lincoln-Way East), and Bob Liking (Sr., St. Charles East) led the surging group through the first mile of 4:39-40. It is customary for a big flock of runners to try their bravery and motor with the big dogs in the first stanza. However, it is the second mile that the real athletes come to life.
The race entered the "Bermuda Triangle" with authority as the same trio leading the charge. The loop is appropriately named because it's where many runners come up missing in the performance department. Several fast starters had begun to fade before the 1.5 mark. Methner, Liking, and Gardner hit the post in an estimated 7:02. It was obvious that they were on the way to a very fast time.
The trio had an eight-second lead on the trailing Micah Wilson (So., St. Charles East) and Max Svienty (Sr., Hersey) at 2miles, which was 9:32. There was a nice stream of runners at the 10:00 mark which meant a strong case of 15:00 or better postings could be in order.
Methner and Gardner dropped Liking with less than a half-mile to go in this instant classic. The pair remained locked together all the way until the final 50 meters as Methner pulled slightly away for the season's biggest meet.
TOP TEN FINISHERS-
|1||Josh Methner||12||Hersey High School||14:12.60||1|
|2||Brett Gardner||12||Lincoln-Way East||14:14.30||2|
|3||Bob Liking||12||St. Charles East High School||14:29.10||3|
|4||Nicolas Dovalovsky||11||Neuqua Valley High School||14:38.90||4|
|5||Jake Allen||12||Naperville North High School||14:41.30||5|
|6||Micah Wilson||10||St. Charles East High School||14:42.00||6|
|7||Max Svienty||12||Hersey High School||14:48.10||7|
|8||William Hauenstein||12||Wheaton Warrenville South High School||14:48.20||8|
|9||Adam Trafecanty||12||Claremont High (SS)||14:50.50||9|
|10||Ben Giblin||12||Sandburg High School||14:51.70||10|
The top five teams in the state followed by #10 Neuqua Valley was in the field. If you added Claremont of California that makes six. Depth was a premium as a total of 15 ranked teams across the classifications were entered.
Pack running and positioning is very important in large fields. The failure to get out could result in fatal stats. St. Charles East is a prime example of a great team in the making. The Saints mobilized their two studs Liking and Wilson up top as they were able to handle low 4:40 opening mile pace. But they also had other runners upfront like Luke Schildmeyer and Aidan King. The Saints led at each mile marker and it was a quick wrap up by placing five runners in the top 20 (four guys under 15:00). The final tally was a crisp 57 points.
Sandburg came in with a mission to win when most pundits did not even give them a chance at a top-five spot. The Eagles behind the tactics of senior twins Ben Giblin and Will Giblin proved they are better than what most people are giving them credit for, took 2nd with 114 points.
The young men of Claremont was a little disappointed with their third-place finish (beat WWS on tiebreaker). But they must respect Illinois cross country in the sense that distance running here is at a premium these days. Topman senior Adam Trafecanty ran well in leading his team with a 9th place finish in 14:50.
Defending champion Wheaton South was 4th behind Claremont of California. The Tigers were led by senior William Hauenstein who took 8th in 14:48. However, they did not have scorer senior Jacob Kluckhohn and the rest of the pack was further down than usual. The lasting result was a talley of 160 pts.
#1 York did not have top man senior Ethan Kern. Kern, a late scratch, probably affected the battlefield morale. Plus, from a low stick position losing a possible top-five finisher doesn't help. Senior Daniel Klysh was able to hold things together with a 15th place finish in 14:54.
|1||St. Charles East High School||57||3+6+13+16+19 (46+56)||0:34 1-5 Split | 14:48 Avg|
|2||Sandburg High School||114||10+11+18+24+51 (68+84)||0:40 1-5 Split | 15:04 Avg|
|3||Claremont High (SS)||160||9+29+34+43+45 (47+65)||0:37 1-5 Split | 15:14 Avg|
|4||Wheaton Warrenville South High School||160||8+25+35+37+55 (58)||0:47 1-5 Split | 15:12 Avg|
|5||Hersey High School||170||1+7+41+57+64 (103+143)||1:29 1-5 Split | 15:09 Avg|
|6||York High School||223||15+40+48+49+71 (82+90)||0:52 1-5 Split | 15:24 Avg|
|7||Barrington High School||290||28+38+60+77+87 (122+125)||0:49 1-5 Split | 15:34 Avg|